Sustainability: Global Measures vs. Regional Application

Among global experts on Sustainable Hospitality, there seem to be two coexisting, and sometimes contradictory, concepts for structuring sustainability measures.

On the one hand, there is a call to follow and comply with globally recognized standards and certification schemes (e.g. CSR or ESG), which defend the ability to measure performance vs. proposed objectives; promoting transparency and ensuring a common and global approach to what Sustainable Hospitality is and what it should include. On the other hand, these sustainability agendas must address local realities. Sustainable and global hospitality depends on local infrastructure and must respond to stakeholder expectations.

Local infrastructure – power grids, waste management facilities, access to water supply, local suppliers, and producers, among others – affects the sustainability performance of hotels. Some experts might argue that there is no sustainability unless it is created locally, and only locally. Following this logic, the question arises as to whether such a high degree of individualization can be standardized. While both approaches have their supporters, the current effort on the part of global institutions and operators seems to be trying to figure out how to combine the best of both worlds.

Global and standardized frameworks allow for a more efficient contribution and provide a path to achieving more consistent, comparable, and transparent results, as there are comparative terms. These ensure that we all speak the same language and provide a framework within which the tools produced allow for efficiency. However, there is the pertinent question regarding the degree of localized effort that leads to other broader questions:

1. Where is the sweet spot between standardized models for sustainable hospitality and local, individualized sustainability action plans?

2. Who is responsible for adapting and creating adjustments to local realities?

3. Does the size and structure of the business influence the approach; will it allow the correct application of global directives?

4. How can we have comparative terms between the various and different models of structure and business to achieve the desired comparison?

No two businesses are the same; therefore, no two ways of applying the sustainability directives will be the same. Global structures must allow for contextualization, that is, to allow finding local solutions and regional interpretation – the global measures themselves, in some of their rules, intend to analyse this same applicability. Thus, national and local structures must work together in order to allow this contextualization, because without the ability to incorporate local results, there will be no positive global results and, therefore, the objectives that these measures seek will not be achieved.

Luis Madera
Hotel Management Strategy
ABC Sustainable Luxury Hospitality

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